SAN DIEGO -- The Poinsettia Bowl turned into a tale of two halves.
Luckily for TCU, the second half provided a happy ending, as the Horned Frogs scored twice in the fourth quarter to beat Louisiana Tech 31-24 on Wednesday.
TCU coach Gary Patterson was convinced Tech coaches were stealing defensive signals in the first half, when the Bulldogs outplayed and outgained the Horned Frogs 266-144 yards.
The game was tied at the half, but the No. 18 Frogs (11-2) were losing in every statistical category. Patterson said TCU changed its signals in the second half to confuse Tech coaches, including defensive line coach Stan Eggen, who coached with Patterson at TCU under Dennis Franchione from 1998-2000.
Never miss a local story.
"They were hitting us in the mouth in the first half and showed us what they had and we had to counter it," TCU quarterback Casey Pachall said. "Several times in the first half we would get them, then they would get us. They were a physical group and they never quit. Props to them for that."
Louisiana Tech denied stealing signals.
"If [TCU] have the same signals as 10 years ago, they're not doing their job," spokesman Patrick Walsh told the San Diego Union Tribune.
TCU dominated the second half. TCU outgained Tech 252-94, won the first down battle 15-3, and controlled the clock 24:10-5:50.
Besides, stolen defensive signals didn't account for the Frogs' dismal offensive performance in the first half when they had 59 yards rushing.
"There was nothing they did that surprised us or caught us off guard," said Pachall, who finished with 206 yards passing and 31 yards rushing. "It was us making mistakes that held us from getting first downs, such as penalties, bad throws on my part, receivers slipping. We got everybody together, fixed it at halftime and we knew we couldn't make those mistakes if we wanted to win."
Few fans expected
The Poinsettia Bowl drew 24,607 spectators, the lowest attendance in the bowl's seven-year history.
The crowd looked decidedly purple, with TCU fans making up approximately a third of the turnout.
Both schools announced they sold out of their allotted 3,000 tickets.
47Career wins for TCU's senior class, a school record. The seniors finished 47-5.
109Wins for coach Gary Patterson, who tied Dutch Meyer for most wins for a TCU coach. Patterson is 109-30 in 11 seasons.
"I don't think anybody expected this to be much of a game; if you asked the national media, they wouldn't know what state Louisiana Tech was in, probably." Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes
"Haven't you guys seen that study on 4th downs? I went over it with the math department and they were telling me how it was stupid to punt." TCU coach Gary Patterson, eliciting laughter, when asked in the postgame news conference about the Frogs converting three fourth downs Wednesday
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760